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Can singles adopt?

debbiedriessenDebbie Driessen-Grika is a social worker with more than 20 years’ experience working in the US and abroad. In her role as a partner with American Adoption Professionals Abroad, Debbie has traveled to more than 25 countries to provide home study reports for expat families who want to adopt. She spoke with While Abroad about single parent adoption and provided some great tips for singles who are in the before, during and after phase of an adoption.

How difficult is it for a single person to adopt?

It is as difficult for a single person to adopt as it is for a married couple to adopt. It takes time, determination, flexibility, a sense of humor, commitment and patience. One difference to keep in mind for single parent adoptions, is that extra care and consideration must be taken during the research phase for international adoptions, to ensure that the countries that the single adopter may be interested in adopting from permits single prospective adoptive parents to adopt. There are some countries which do not permit single parent adoptions, and so it is better to find this out as quickly as possible in order to avoid time delays, money loss and disappointment. Single men and women are permitted to adopt domestically from the US and internationally from several different countries.

Are the steps the same as for a couple?

Yes, the steps for a single person to adopt are the same steps that couples would need to take to adopt, minus the information about marriage and how one would divvy the roles in caring for the child, house and expenses.

What issues will come up in a home study for singles that might not be relevant for couples?

Many issues that are discussed with couples will also be discussed and relevant to singles who are adopting. However, for single prospective adoptive parents who are residing abroad and wishing to adopt, adoption social workers may spend particular focus, time and attention on some of the below listed topics and issues:
* support system
* job security
* financial security
* health
* plans for the child after placement
* coping with difficult behaviors / special needs

Although these issues are all very important for couples as well as for singles adopting, they present especially important areas of focus for single parent adoptions.

How can single people maximize their chances of being able to adopt a child?

As a single prospective adoptive parent, you will want to be sure that you are financially stable and able to finance not only the costs of an adoption process but also be able to financially provide for your adopted child’s needs throughout their childhood years and up until they are at least 18 years old. This will also help demonstrate to adoption professionals and others involved in the adoption process that you have thought through your decision and have put a plan in place for your child’s future. It will also show pro-active thinking and planning and signify that you are a stable, secure, committed and reliable individual. Additionally, to be as prepared as possible for success, a single person will want to be sure to have a strong supportive network of friends, family members, community members or neighbors in place so that he/she has people to rely on and to help, in times of need.

What challenges will a single person have in terms of getting a referral?

This depends a bit on the country from which someone is adopting. Some countries permit single parent adoptions however, they may only have a specific number of adoptions per year for which they will allow single parents to adopt. It may be helpful to talk with agencies to learn about their policies on working with single prospective parents. It may also help to talk with different adoption agencies, in order to get a sense of how many single parent adoptions are successful from the country in which the prospective adoptive parent is interested in adopting.

Are there specific countries that you would recommend a single person consider and why?
While some countries may permit single prospective adoptive parents to adopt, it is important to research and learn if there are any particular rules or restrictions for these single parent adoptions. Individuals can go to the following website to review the various countries’ requirements: and it is also advisable to speak with adoption agencies about the agency’s requirements and guidelines. Adoption agencies will also be able to assist with sharing information as to whether a country has recently had changes to their adoption programs.

Single Men

Single men most frequently adopt from the United States. However, below is a list of other countries which allow single men to adopt. Keep in mind that many countries and adoption agencies may still have hesitations about single man adoptions and may ask particularly specific questions about an individual’s sexual orientation (as this may affect whether an agency or country is willing to work with or place a child with you).

* Bulgaria
* Latvia
* Uganda
* Columbia
* Haiti
* the Phillipines

Single women

Single women have a larger selection of countries from which they are permitted to adopt. Once again, information on a woman’s sexual orientation may play a role in determining from where she may be able to adopt.

* Bulgaria
* China
* Colombia – singles can only adopt a child over age 7
* DRC – singles must adopt a child of the same sex
* Ethiopia
* Ghana – singles may adopt only if they are a citizen of Ghana
* Guyana
* Haiti
* Honduras
* Hungary (although married couples are preferred)
* Kenya – a single woman may adopt from Kenya if:
- the child is a relative
- the child has special needs
- the applicant has adopted or has another child
- child has sibling who is also being adopted by applicant
- applicant is the only person available to adopt the child
* Latvia
* Marshall Islands
* Moldova
* Morocco
* Phillipines
* Poland
* Peru
* Taiwan
* Uganda – child must be same sex as the parent

One thing to keep in mind – some countries that do not ordinarily permit single parent adoptions, may allow adoption if the child being adopted is a relative.

Is there anything to be aware of?

The process to adopt as a single person can feel overwhelming and intimidating. Parenting any child, whether or not the child is adopted, is an enormously wonderful and rewarding but also at times difficult and challenging experience. Some of the below tips may help to decrease the anxiety and stress involved in the adoption process for prospective single parents, particularly those residing abroad:

* Speak with Other Single Parents / Prospective Adoptive Parents. Communicating with others who are in the process of adopting or who have adopted will provide you with first hand knowledge of adopting as a single person. It will also provide you with guidance, perspective and an understanding that only other single adoptive parents or prospective adoptive parents will be able to share.

* Be as Prepared as Possible. Read articles and books on single parenting. Order children’s books that address having a single parent. Gather as much information and as many resources as you can so that you can learn how to cope with various situations that may arise.

* Make Plans for After Placement. Have a plan in place for how long you will be able to stay at home with your newly adopted child and what type of care you intend to arrange after your adoption leave ends. It is very important that single parents have some childcare options available for their child after placement; whether it be daycare, babysitter, a nanny, school, etc.

* Have a Support System in Place BEFORE you adopt. You want to have people to turn to for guidance, emotional and physical support and as positive influences in you and your child’s life. Having this in place before you adopt, will allow you to develop strong enough bonds such that you will feel comfortable sharing sometimes difficult moments with those around you who can help.

What are the most common questions you get from singles who want to adopt and what are the answers?

Many single prospective adoptive parents are mostly concerned with the financial aspect of adopting and being able to financially support a child, on their own, until the child reaches the age of 18 years. Often single prospective parents have sufficient funds, but their worries are greater if they have positions that are short-term or temporary, or positions which may change should their employment change. Many single adoptive parents have an enormously supportive community of friends and colleagues who are willing and interested to help out and be available in times of need.

Can you recommend any resources for singles who want to adopt or who have adopted?

Single Parent Resource Center
31 E. 28th Street, NY, NY 10016

The Daddy Question, Adoptive Families Magazine.

Single Parent Adoption
Includes resources, information, and support for both domestic and international adoption.

Single Parent Adoption:
One Mom Shares the Joys and Realities. Provides a personal perspective on the experiences of single-parent adoption.

Single Parent Adoption A historical perspective on single-parent adoptions.



Adopting On Your Own: The Complete Guide to Adoption for Single Parentsby Lee Varon (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2000)

Single Mothers By Choice: A Guidebook for Single Women Who Are Considering or Have Chosen Motherhood by Jane Mattes

And Baby Makes Two (video)

Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman’s Guide by Mikki Morrissette

Adoption Parenting
by Jean MacLeod and Sheena Macrae

Books for children with single parents

The Family Book by Todd Parr

Hug by Jez Alborough

Families are Different by Nina Pellegrini

Mama Always Comes Home by Karma Wilson

The Best Single Mom in the World: How I Was Adopted (Concept Books (Albert Whitman)

Debbie Driessen-Grika, MSW, LSW, works for American Adoption Professionals Abroad. When not traveling for work, she divides her time between the US and the Netherlands. You can reach her:
Tel# 001-856-428-1670 (US phone number)

Posted in: Paperwork, Singles

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